Mobility is the foundation for living a healthy and independent life. Mobility as a whole comprises physical stamina, strength, balance, coordination and range of motion. Mobility is being used when we get out of bed, walk up stairs, carry groceries or get in and out of a car. Engaging in regular physical activity is paramount to maintaining mobility and independence at any age or health status. It helps control weight, keeps muscles and bones strong, joints working properly, heart healthy and metabolism firing. Having a flexibility routine is also important in maintaining mobility. A well stretched muscle more easily achieves its full range of motion, improves balance and reduces the likelihood of falls - all factors that make performing daily tasks easier.
Who should be incorporating a flexibility routine?
From a less restricted golf swing or soccer kick for athletic performance to improved functional abilities like reaching or bending over during daily tasks, a flexibility routine will benefit anyone regardless of their age or health status. Stretching will decrease risk of injuries, help joints move through the full range of motion, increase muscle blood flow, and enable the muscles to work more efficiently. Activities like yoga combine stretching, relaxation and balance, and can also be a wonderful way to de-stress, relax and recover.
How to stretch
— For stretching before a workout make sure to start with light activity to warm up the muscles and stimulate blood flow, such as jogging on the spot or high knees to avoid injury.
— Stretching for 5 - 10 minutes after a workout will help warm down the body, reduce risk of injury due to muscle tightness, reduce stress and tension and improve flexibility
— Always breathe through your stretches, if you feel pain you have stretched too far.
— Hold a stretch for about 30 seconds on each side and repeat 2-3 times. Do this 2 - 3 days a week for all major muscle-tendon groups (neck, shoulders, chest, full back, hips, legs and ankles) for best results.
— If you have an injury or health condition, consult a doctor or exercise physiologist first about what stretches are safe to do.
What to do next
Loss of mobility affects one-third to one-half of people aged 65 and older. Integrating prevention strategies to help maintain and build mobility will have profound effects on the quality of life of many people. Incorporating flexibility into your exercise routine will help prevent loss of mobility and improve quality of life.
If you have an injury, pain in the body, a chronic condition or any other health concern that needs to be taken into consideration when adjusting an exercise routine, be sure to talk to your doctor first. You can be referred to an Exercise Physiologist who can assess your condition and tailor your exercises and show you how to exercise safely to best suit you and your condition.